[sic] Magazine

Yo La Tengo – Fade

Your common-or-garden indie type may find himself wanting bigger hooks, your long-time fan something a little more stoned and/or weird, but in recent years Yo La Tengo have instead proved themselves again and again with substantial shades of subtlety and the likeable Fade continues this run. An album borne thus of esoteric intelligence, downright mellifluous maturity and much of the last 10-15 years of Yo La Tengo material it therefore naturally seems a statesmanlike gesture, smudging its more grandiose moments with periods of easy-time jamming.

As such, the stabbing strings and parping horns of “Before We Run” are cosy rather than challenging, the simmering fuzz and carefree meanders of the splendid “Ohm” polite, complimentary and a world away from seeking some sort of abrasive art status. Fade is not however all summer’s day haze and horizontal vibes; there are sentimental country asides too, and a wonderful dose of dreamy background distortion courtesy of “Paddle Forward”. The last vestiges of the band’s early Velvet Underground fixation can be heard also, surfacing in the organ work of the silly little ditty “Well You Better” and elsewhere via Georgia Hubley ‘s Nico-like vocal harmonies.

Fade ‘s flipside though, it must be said, is more predictable. Full of latter-day Richard Youngs / Neil Young high and lonesome psyche-folk whispers, the balladesque “I’ll Be Around” is understated in its minimalism, “Cornelia And Jane” striking thanks to its bent strings and echo – the best of this bunch, “Two Trains”, pleasingly reminiscent of all the best sleepy and deep Americana recordings.

Ira Kaplan and Hubley’s current fascination with lightly country-fried indie may not be culturally urgent nor as inspirational as certain previous experiments have been, but Fade is undoubtedly made of the same stock. Once upon time, as Yo La Tengo, they may have written their own rulebook, but nowadays, with safe chapters like Fade , they seem content to simply usher in an era of happily ever after – and, with a history like theirs, it’d probably be churlish to deny them the right to do just that.

Advised downloads: “Ohm” and “Paddle Forward”

~Fade is released January 14th 2013 on Matador .~